The Impossible Kid (AKA The Impossible Kid of Kung Fu) ~ 1982, Eddie Nicart, The Philippines


For most folks, there’s no question as to just who is the ultimate action film super spy. For most of us, James Bond takes the cake, but in the Philippines, there is yet another debonair master of espionage who has won the heart of his people, another bold figure who’s name is synonymous with intrigue and excitement. In The Philippines, there is WENG WENG.


Weng Weng is best known for playing the role of Agent 00 in a series of action packed Filipino spy films from the 1980’s. He was also less than three feet tall.


The dude next to him probably isn’t all that tall, either.

It’s a little offensive, to say the least, but where else was Weng Weng going to get the opportunity to make this kind of scratch? He was NOT a good actor, people, and this role brought him considerable fame, as well as the adoration of fans across the Philippines. The truth is that playing Agent OO was probably a pretty good career move for good ol’ Weng, and he happily did it over and over again. In the end, it’s all a wash anyway, these movies happened, and Weng Weng is dead now. Like it or not, there is, as I write this, a series of Fillipino Spy films starring a midget, and they’re completely insane. The Impossible Kid is one of them.

We should NOT look at Weng Weng with pity in our hearts, anyway, Weng Weng is not to be pitied, he is to be idolized, and respected; for truly, he is our tiniest bad ass. Weng Weng’s stature is never treated as a handicap, either, on the contrary, he always used his physical characteristics to his advantage, and as such, was perhaps even more capable in the field than a spy of average height and build. Let’s discuss some of the special things that Weng Weng had goin’ on:

weng-weng-machine gun1. Stealth: Because what’s more inconspicuous than a gnome in a khaki leisure suit? Weng Weng can hide ANYWHERE, dude. Telephone pole? He’s behind it. Bush? He’s in there, somewhere, and you’d never find him in a million years. Really any physical space offers countless potential hiding spots for Agent OO, I mean, hell, at one point Weng Weng even hides inside a suitcase that the bad guys think is full of their ill gotten pesos, and by the time the learn the truth, it’s too late. Theoretically, he could be in your pocket right now. Sure, there are downsides, like when he gets captured by the enemy and they hold him captive by tossing him into a birdcage that they had laying around, but Weng Weng is more than capable of getting himself out of that jam, even when they chuck that birdcage into the damn ocean.

impossible_kid2. The Martial Arts: That’s right, bozo, drop to your knees and pray for mercy, because this is one black belt who had his neat little karate outfit special ordered from the fucking Baby Gap, and he’s taking you down. Weng Weng even uses his short stature to his advantage in the realm of hand-to-hand combat, because it puts him at ground zero for the ultimate killshot- I speak, of course, of Weng Weng’s pulverizing punch straight to the gonads. That’s his specialty, it’s his Step One in any fight, and he almost never needs to take it to Step Two. Right out the gate, Weng Weng just lets you have it right there in the family jewels, and after that, you’re done, son. A Drinking game where everyone gets together to watch a Weng Weng film and then take shots each time Agent OO lets loose with a scrote-curdling blast to the balls would result in alchohol poisoning four minutes in for all parties involved.

Weng Weng’s fighting style also involves a lot of sliding around. I’m not sure if it’s something to do with his specially designed espionage leisure suits, or if his body secrets some sort of oil, but he frequently just flings himself across the ground and slides around like a hockey puck. It’s interesting.

tumblr_mjnbydqiYu1qiw1nno1_4003. The Babes: The ladies cannot get enough of Weng Weng, and who can blame them? With his frail, child like frame, expressionless face and seductive bowl-cut hair style, all women are moved to a state of frenzied, sex crazed madness at the very sight of Agent OO, and naturally, they’re more than willing to forgive him for being such a creepy little pervert. Seriously, he is, he totally peeps on naked people every chance he gets in all of his movies. He does it more than once in this film alone. He is utterly without shame.

for_your_height_only61“Don’t hate the player, hate the game!” – Weng Weng

THE PLOT~ Some shady terrorist group has been kidnapping wealthy industrialists across the Phillipines and holding them ransom, much to Interpol’s frustrated dismay. Now these mysterious criminals claim that if they don’t start seein’ mad pesos pronto, they’ll start killing these Fillipino one percenters at a rate of one per week! Naturally, Interpol can’t tolerate this crap, so they bring in the one man who can get the job done; AGENT OO!


The only secret agent I know who rides a motorcycle he bought from a Toys R Us.

The Impossible Kid is not Weng Weng’s best film- that honor more than likely goes to For Your Height Only, this film’s immediate prequel. The Impossible Kid is, oddly enough, more restrained, possibly due to budgetary limitations, and it features less Bond-esque gadgetry, as well as fewer stunts. Many of the stunts we do see are actually just lamer versions of stunts from the first film, and they reuse many of For Your Height Only’s locations, as well. It’s strange, considering that For Your Height Only is thought to have been fairly successful, because The Impossible Kid doesn’t feel like it has any sort of momentum behind it at all, this thing is sort of just coasting into town on empty.

Actually, while we’re on the topic; it’s pretty much gotta be Weng Weng doing his own stunt work here, right? I mean, what stunt double could possibly stand in for a man who is two feet, nine inches tall? An actual child? It’s either Weng Weng, or a large doll. That’s kinda cool, I think. He’s just like Jackie Chan!

The Impossible Kid also has some pretty weak production value, but no more so than Weng Weng’s other films, all of which are pretty sloppy and primitive. Even as far back as the 1960’s, we saw more sophisticated films coming out of The Philippines, (Brides of Blood, for example), but typically, this isn’t much of an issue, because Agent OO can compensate for crummy production through a heaping portion of crazy, which is always entertaining. The problem is, though, that The Impossible Kid isn’t very crazy. It’s a huge step down from the wackiness of For Your Height Only, precisely when they needed to up the ante. As a result, this is a mostly forgettable effort in the catalog of one of Psychotronic Cinema’s most lovable icons. It’s a shame, because Weng Weng didn’t make enough movies for us to toss one out without it feeling like a real missed opportunity.

That being said, Weng Weng is never TOTALLY unwatchable, and it’s really easy to root for him, no matter how bad his pictures are, so this movie can still supply you with enough entertainment to sustain an hour and a half of your evening if it’s already in your DVD player just ready to go. Under ordinary circumstances, however, I wouldn’t put much effort into seeking out a copy of The Impossible Kid, unless you’re a Weng Weng completest, which I certainly am. My recommendation for the rest of you would be to focus your energies on For Your Height Only instead, which could probably be called the Citizen Kane of Filipino midget spy movies, and which was released on home video by Mondo Macabro a few years back, making it the most readily available Weng Weng film in the United States by a long shot. Low quality DVD releases of The Impossible Kid are obtainable however, if you do a little hunting around, but in my mind that’s too much work for not enough pay off.


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RED SUN!!!!!

Red Sun ~ 1971, Terence Young


When a botched train robbery leaves a rascally gunfighter betrayed by his gang, he is forced to join forces with a mysterious Asian warrior on a secret mission in the American west. Though they are initially unable to see eye to eye, these two slowly form a mutual respect for one anther, and embark on a grand adventure set against the rugged backdrop of the American frontier, which climaxes in a dramatic, bullet riddled standoff in an old, Spanish style mission. Sound familiar? It damn should, because Shanghai Noon grossed over $99,000,000 worldwide, and that’s an exact description of that movie’s plot. The things is, though, I’m actually talking about Red Sun, the movie Shanghai Noon ripped off, and guess what? The plot is exactly the same in both films.

Some folks I’ve spoken to have claimed that Shanghai Noon was, in fact, an admitted remake of Red Sun, but after some research I have turned up no official acknowledged of the debt Shanghai Noon owes to this film, and therefore I think we can safely say this was probably not an official remake. If I’m correct, then a more accurate description of this phenomena would be ‘blatant plagiarism.’ Any argument that the concept isn’t identical is, frankly, silly, and even worse, the script for Red Sun must have served as a rough framework for Shanghai Noon, because the structure is completely identical in both films, aside from a few added subplots. There are even some gags and emotional beats from the 1971 original that you see repeated in the 2000 rip off, and it’s rare that any remake stays this close to it’s source material, even in the world of actual, and official remakes. You could convince me that my own mother was a sock puppet operated by sasquatch before you even had me considering the notion that the person who wrote Shanghai Noon had never seen Red Sun. No other claim could possibly be more unrealistic, without question, this was a calculated attempt to repackage something great, and distribute it as something original; Shanghai Noon is not homage, it’s theft.

Now, I’m not saying that I hate Shanghai Noon, far from it, in fact. Jackie Chan, who is basically the Mickey Mouse of martial arts, is a global treasure, and his cross demographic appeal doesn’t need to be defended. Similarly, that movie has Owen Wilson Owen Wilsoning harder than he ever has before or since, and all of our lives are richer for it. What I DO mean to say, however, is that if you liked Shanghai Noon the first time, then maybe you’d also like it the REAL first time; and Red Sun IS the REAL first time.

So, having established a little bit that these films are remarkably similar to one another, let’s quickly talk about the few things that make them different. First things first, Red Sun doesn’t have Jackie Chan, it has Toshiro Mifune.


Mifune was actually born in China, but to Japanese parents, and is most readily identified as a Japanese actor, so in this version, our Asian delegates come not from China, but from Japan. This changes some superficial aspects of the movie, and gives us more swords, and less kung fu, but that it in no way hinders Red Sun’s ability to kick ass and be awesome. Jackie Chan and his hand-to-hand hijinks are fantastic, yes, but Mifune is a bad ass the likes of which we only see a few times per generation, and in this movie he brings the unreasonably cool art of samurai sword fighting to the American wild west with many a guttural bark and angular scowl, which is every bit as awesome in execution as it sounds on paper. Comparing Mifune to Chan is a real apples to oranges type situation, but I’d say the two are equally cool, regardless of how fundamentally different they are.

Similarly, where Shanghai Noon had Owen Wilson, here we have Charles Bronson, the impossibly easy-to-like  murder enthusiast from the blood splattered Death Wish franchise.

RHSyHtXCharles Bronson’s natural habitat is pretty much anywhere, provided he’s pointing a gun at someone.

In Red Sun, Bronson totally kills it, literally, and figuratively. as an actor, Bronson always managed to balance sardonic, wry charm with gritty, violent menace in a way that made him equally intimidating and likable, and off the charts on both counts. He does that here as well as he ever has, making his character incalculably more bad ass than Wilson’s inept, gun-slinging charmer, but this feels entirely appropriate since Red Sun is a much rougher ride.

And it really is, Red Sun is darker, and much more violent than the good natured and outwardly comedic Shanghai Noon. Charles Bronson does tell a few jokes here and there, but his wisecracking never manages to outpace his body count, and Mifune only has two modes; scowl, and kill… Which is so, so awesome. Also, there’s some nudity in Red Sun, and the Lucy Liu/Princess Pei Pei character is absent  entirely. Instead, our female lead is a prostitute played by Ursula Andress, who Charles Bronson kidnaps in order to piss off the bad guy. So, yeah. Murder and hookers. Maybe not a film to watch with the youngsters around, unless you want to train them to be awesome or something.

While Red Sun’s legacy is felt in every single moment of Shanghai Noon, the two films actually have differing thesis statements. Red Sun is basically a redemption story, with Charles Bronson playing the real central character, and Mifune teetering over into sidekick territory. In that film, Bronson and Mifune’s characters are roughly equal in their status as capable warriors, but Bronson has no moral compass and no sense of honor whatsoever. Through his meeting with Mifune, he witnesses firsthand the sturdy foreigner’s unwavering dedication to the samurai code, and Bronson slowly comes to understand the error in living life as a murderous, wise-cracking shit head. Thus, he decides to turn over a new leaf, a new, blood drenched, bullet riddled leaf, and maybe pay attention to morality every once-in-a-while. Shanghai Noon, on the other hand is more about Jackie Chan’s character, who, through his adventures with Owen Wilson, realizes that his centuries old beliefs and customs about honor and dedication to the Chinese Emperor are totally silly, and that instead he should just do whatever he wants, because China is really far away. Seriously, that’s the moral to that movie, go back and watch it. There are multiple scenes in the film where Chan says something about his oath to protect the princess, or what have you, and Wilson mocks him dismissively, saying that he’s in America now, the sun may rise in the east, but it sets in the West, so he shouldn’t feel shackled to the honor code he’s lived by for his entire life. This is basically an existential version of the “if they’re in a different area code, it’s not cheating” defense commonly used by douche bags and adulterers to justify the antics of  their wayward genitals, and it’s also the exact opposite of the thesis statement seen in Red Sun. All things considered, I’m not wild about Shanghai Noon’s small minded and culturally reckless thesis statement. ‘Merca.

Anyway. This review has mostly been about how Shanghai Noon ripped off Red Sun, instead of actually reviewing Red Sun, so I guess did kind of a shitty job. Oh well. Sorry, folks! Let me quickly say this; Red Sun is awesome, and criminally under-appreciated. The Wilson/Chan dynamic you loved in 2000 actually worked even better in 1971 with Mifune and Bronson, and honest, the talent on screen here isn’t a step down from what you’ve already seen, it’s a step up. Plus, crazily enough, Red Sun is actually made MORE entertaining if you come into it having already seen Shanghai Noon like, a hundred times. It sort of makes the experience seem almost surreal, like you somehow found the “real” Shanghai Noon. It feels like some sort of secret movie that the world forgot, and that Wilson and Chan tried to bury. All in all, it’s a pretty great find, and oddly enough, I think that Red Sun is equally recommendable if you loved Shanghai Noon, OR if you hated it.

Well worth checking out.


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Breakin’ – 1984, Joel Silberg


First of all, please- watch that trailer. Click this. Damn. That’s what we’re dealing with here.

Ever the bold pioneers, Golan-Globus, the same bonkers-ass production house that would later give us Over The Top, the Citizen Cane of competitive arm-wrestling movies, comes cinema’s first and most noteworthy foray into the dog-eat-dog world of street-rat dance-combat; BREAKIN’.

People hated this movie when it came out. I hypothesize that they just could not handle the funk. But let me tell you what, you son of a bitch- we can handle it now.

THE PLOT~ Kelly is a talented young woman with a bright future in the prestigious world of professional dancing, but when her strict-ass Dance instructor makes a pass at her, shes all like ‘No way, bro,” and then she promptly peaces out, at which point she falls in with two ragamuffin break-dancers from the streets named Turbo, and O-Zone. Equal parts inspired and excited by the passion and raw, senseless zazz of these dynamic and probably homeless performers, Kelly joins up with them in hopes of guiding the trio into a successful career in the surprisingly strict world of professional dancing- but is the world ready for poppings and lockings of this magnitude?! Also featuring Shooter McGavin, who is NOT a bad guy in this film! Imagine that!

So, immediately with this movie you’re having an amazing time. It’s visually engaging, the costumes are utterly bananas, and the soundtrack is sorta like what I imagine it would sound like to get locked in Rick James’ closet over the weekend. Some of the names in the credits alone are worth the trip- When you see “Adolfo Shabba-Doo Quinones” and “Michael Boogaloo Shrimp Chambers” in the credits, that’s basically a guarantee that shit’s gonna get cray-cray, and let me tell you, it does; more Moonwalking occurs during the opening credits of this movie than has happened on the surface of the actual moon. It’s intense. This thing is about dancing, first and foremost, and you can count on that being made very clear as the film progresses.

Now, time for absolute transparency; I am not a dancer. I know absolutely nothing about dancing, and I do NOT like dance movies… But I HAVE seen a few, be they your Step Ups, or your Stomp the Yards; and I feel confident when I say that Breakin’ is the best dance movie I have ever seen, and maybe the only one I have actually enjoyed. Credit where credit is due; this shit is full on impressive. Some of this dancing looks impossible, borderline Ray Harryhausen-esque, so maybe some of it has been jazzed up with special effects… I wouldn’t be surprised if there was at least frame rate manipulation, Jackie Chan Style, to help give it that visual pop, but one way or the other, it’s downright cool. Also, if this ISN’T fake, then these people are damn warlocks, and should be treated as superior to the race of Man. Actually, at one point in the film, Turbo DOES dance with an enchanted broom, but I’m totally willing to believe that he can just do that in real life at this point.

In keeping with the 1980’s style-guide for pop and genre movies, Breakin’s aesthetic and technical aspects are mercilessly shinny, which absolutely is appropriate, given the subject matter we’re dealing with. The movie actually looks pretty good for what was likely a pretty small budget, and that’s because Golan-Globus really knew how to get three dollars out of a quarter back in those days. They make it all count, and I think the time has come to emulate some of these magical 80’s tricks into the motion pictures of today…. Because our movies all look like shit now. Why so much steady cam?

However, before anyone thinks I’m submitting this film for admission to The damn Criterion Collection or something; I should point out that Breakin’ is also ridiculous as hell, and I totally acknowledge that. It’s pure 80’s nonsense, complete with training montages, a hillbilly fist fight, “you got served” style dance-off grudge-matches, and the tightest pants I have ever seen on a male in my life. They look like they’re damn painted on by the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue people or something. Honestly, it’s pornographic, these pants.

Casting Breakin’s three lead roles had to have been the single most crucial factor in the success or failure of the film, no question. It actually wouldn’t surprise me if Quinones and Chambers were discovered first, and the script was written with them specifically in mind, because writing a movie like this without talent in place would be risky at best and maddeningly negligent at worst. Finding human beings with screen charisma who could dance this well AND act well enough to carry an entire picture is a task which sounds full on Herculean in nature, so thank goodness for Shabba-Doo and Boogaloo Shrimp, the true saviors of Breakin’, and probably my life, if you get down to it. Lucinda Dickey is an asset to the film as well, but the truth is, she’s the weakest link out of the three. Also, Ice-T is in this movie, too…. Was he the worst rapper of all time, or is that just what rap sounded like in ’84? Rough.

Plot-wise, Breakin’ is silly, cheesy, predictable, and overly sentimental- all things a dance movie should be allowed to be, provided it’s also entertaining, which Breakin’ certainly is. Effectively, this is a feel-good, underdog story about challenging the stodgy old status quo, and the merit in being yourself. It’s a simple, dusty old message, but it’s surprisingly easy to feel good for these guys, because when things finally work out for them, they really do deserve it. For the most part, as long as you don’t go into this determined to have a bad time, Breakin’ is damn effective, and also for sure the greatest movie about challenging the status-quo with the power of dance to have been released in 1984. Oh, shit, Footloose also came out in ’84?!?

It’s more than a little ironic that a movie about being yourself and challenging the outdated status quo failed to succeed in doing so itself when the critics got their talons in it. In the same way that these characters had to struggle to win over their opposition, they’ll have to struggle to win you over, too- for me, it was surprisingly easy to temporary abandon my cynicism and condone such blatant acts of funky tomfoolery. Breakin’ gets my recommendation if you can manage to quiet your inner grump for an hour and a half, and if you happen to enjoy dance movies, holy shit, go watch this.

P.S. Avoid Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo like a pack if wild tigers infected with the black death. It’s such an irredeemable stinker that it will retroactively ruin Breakin’ for you. I’m serious.


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